The judiciary during the Repression
(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Disappearance of Jorge Daniel Collado - File N° 230
Jorge Collado was kidnapped at the age of twenty-one. His mother declares:
I am absolutely convinced that my son never did anything wrong, that he was never involved with subversive groups, not even political ones. He was only interested in his work and his hobby, drawing, for which he had a special talent. The only reason for his detention can be some mistake, or grudge, or some other dubious reason. just a few weeks before he had been made Secretary of the Bank Workers' Cultural Club.
On 22 September 1976, during working hours, a group of men arrived at the Banco de Mendoza at 473 Calle San Martin in Buenos Aires city. They identified themselves to the security guard and the branch manager as a unit of the 'Combined Forces' and said they wanted to take Jorge Daniel Collado for 'investigation of his record', as was recorded in the bank's daybook.
A few days later, the branch manager was asked to bring the personnel file to first Army Headquarters so that they could obtain information about the victim. At the same time, in full view of witnesses, another group took away all Collado's personal effects from his house.
All inquiries made to persons and institutions, both public and private, produced no result. We now know from reports from people apparently linked to security organizations, that he was in the Campo de Mayo for the first two weeks of his detention.
On 10 December 1976 a writ of habeas corpus was presented and was rejected; without prejudice to this 'since the activities of the armed group which deprived Jorge Daniel Collado of his liberty constitute a criminal action' his records were passed to Court of Investigation No. 15, Secretariat No. 146.
To this day the whereabouts of this disappeared person and the identity of the perpetrators of the crime remain unknown.
As we have said, there are thousands of examples which prove the lack of judicial protection in those years. Declarations made by hundreds of people released from the so-called 'Prisoner Assessment Centres' affirm the presence in these centres of many of the disappeared persons when writs of habeas corpus on their behalf had been rejected on the grounds that they were not being detained.
As far as the writs presented to the Courts of Investigation in Buenos Aires are concerned, their existence has been reliably proved through certified copies of the respective lists provided by the Supreme Court. When checked against the testimonies given to this Commission, we can see that more than 1,300 disappeared persons were seen in secret detention centres at a time when judicial action to determine their whereabouts was proving ineffectual.
Paradoxically, given the thousands of negative replies from the courts, we could say that, in the climate of general suspicion of subversion of the entire population during the military government, the only citizens whose good behaviour was beyond question were those in whose detention the group which made up the Combined Forces showed no interest at all.
Obviously this hypothesis only serves to demonstrate, by taking it to absurd lengths, the arbitrariness behind the policy of mass disappearances. It was a policy which, under the pretext of guaranteeing national security and by maintaining that it was the only viable way to restore public order, destroyed the basis of civilized life in this country.
"This process is cruel and inhuman. As experience has shown, 'disappearance' constitutes not only arbitrary deprivation of liberty but also a serious threat to the victim's personal security and even to his life. It also causes real concern for his fate and for the impossibility of giving legal, moral and material
assistance". (Report on Human Rights in Argentina - OAS Inter-American Human Rights Commission, page 59.)
In this respect the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the OAS on 6 October 1979 are particularly pertinent:
If certain ideologies and certain ways of interpreting the legitimate concern for national security result in subjugating the state, the population, its rights and its dignity, they cease to be human, and it would be impossible without totally deceiving oneself to place them in a Christian context.